The Wells Fargo Championship played more like a U.S. Open on Saturday, as only four players mustered scores in the 60s on a sloppy, windy day at TPC Potomac. All four are now in the top 15 on the leaderboard as a result of a Round 3 scoring average that ballooned to 73.6.
Jason Day ceded his lead to Max Homa early before Homa proceeded to take a step back late in the day, as Keegan Bradley took over with his round-of-the-day 67. The 3-under par pushed him to 8 under on the week, and he takes a two-stroke advantage over Day into the finale on Sunday with a bigger chase pack that’s much further back.
Let’s take a look at Bradley’s round, as well as what he’ll have to do in Round 4 to hold off some big-time players and collect what would be the fifth PGA Tour victory of his career.
Keegan Bradley (-8): After an even-par 35 going out, Bradley was flawless coming home as he shot 32 on the back with three birdies and no bogeys to rise to the top of the board. Normally not considered one of the better putters in the world, he’s been incredible in that category this week, which either means he’s taking advantage of one of the best weeks of his career or there’s room to fall off in a big way on Sunday as he tries to close out the victory.
“Today and yesterday were just really good ball-striking and really good putting,” said Bradley. “It’s rare that we match those up and I’ve matched that up these last two days. If I can just keep that going a little bit, I’ll like my chances.”
I like them, too, and the biggest story going into the final round is whether Bradley can make enough putts to maintain this lead. We saw Day, after holding the 36-hole lead, play the first five holes on Saturday in 5 over before going on to shoot 79. It’s extremely easy to do in these conditions if you aren’t saving pars and bogeys from distance. If Bradley can continue to do that, he should get his first win since the 2018 BMW Championship.
2. Max Homa (-6)
T3. Anirban Lahiri, James Hahn (-4)
5. Matt Fitzpatrick (-3)
T6. Rory McIlroy, Cameron Young, Matthew Wolff, Chad Ramey, Brian Harman, Denny McCarthy, Luke List (-2)
It’s difficult to imagine the winner being anyone outside of either Bradley or this group above. In fact, it would be absolutely shocking if that was the case. Homa is probably playing the best golf of anyone here — he’s been the second best ball-striker in this field since January 1 — and he’s struck it better than Bradley throughout the week. That doesn’t mean he’s going to win, of course, but he’s in a better spot than it might look on the leaderboard.
Wolff has firepower for days, but McIlroy has momentum following his 2-under 68 on Saturday, which was the second-best round of the day behind Bradley. He could certainly produce something magical on Sunday for his second win of the season, although he’ll need some help from Bradley.
“Six shots is still six shots,” said McIlroy. “It depends what the weather’s like tomorrow. I’d like it to be pretty tough. I know it’s probably not going to be as wet. It’s going to be quite cold. I don’t know what the wind’s going to be like. I can’t imagine tomorrow being any tougher than today was. You can’t really chase much around here because it’s a tough golf course, but like six shots is still a long way back.”
What’s the best story?
There are some truly intriguing narratives beyond Bradley getting his first win in four years. Homa notching yet another one and moving himself into real Presidents Cup (and perhaps even major championship contention conversation) would be terrific. Anirban Lahiri winning for the first time on the PGA Tour would be incredible. So would Matt Fitzpatrick. Or Cameron Young. There are so many former champions of this tournament in the hunt here, including McIlroy, Homa, Hahn, Harman and Day (although he fell off the pace on Saturday).
Then there’s Matthew Wolff, who’s been wandering in the desert for most of the last year and half, struggling to find balance in his life. He said on Thursday he’s just here to have fun, and I can’t think of anything more fun for golf fans than him winning this trophy on Sunday afternoon.
Quote of the day
“If you went down to Data Golf, I’m sure my percentage of winning wouldn’t be too high at this point.” -Rory McIlroy
I did go down to Data Golf, and McIlroy’s percentage of winning is exactly 2.1%, which is indeed “not very high at this point.” Bradley is 54%, and Homa is 24.1%.
Updated odds and picks
Here’s a look at the new odds after 36 holes, courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.
Keegan Bradley: +125Max Homa: +250Matt Fitzpatrick: 14-1Anirban Lahiri: 16-1Rory McIlroy: 16-1James Hahn: 22-1Cameron Young: 40-1Brian Harman: 40-1Luke List: 50-1Denny McCarthy: 50-1Matthew Wolff: 70-1Chad Ramey: 70-1
I absolutely love Wolff’s number here. He’s been one of the worst putters of anyone in the top 12, and his volatility — he could shoot 64 or he could shoot 84 — works in his favor in this situation. If you don’t think Bradley or Homa are going to close it out, I think he’s probably the guy to be on in the chase pack.